In one of the very first classes I ever had at university, and I’ll never forget this, the lecturer asked a simple question that would entirely change my perspective and how I engaged myself in the world. The question was this:

“Who here has a car?” he said, “Raise your hand.”

Looking around the room, people had started to raise their hands, and he followed with more questions,

“What sort of car is it? How many miles does it have on it? How much did you pay for it?”

After a few minutes of this interrogation of questions that have nothing to do with Accounting, he stopped and put forward another question,

“Now, who here can tell me what the most valuable asset they have is?”

One kid instinctively stuck up his hand and said, “My car sir!”

He’d fallen right into the trap and here’s where it gets good. The lecturer replies,

“Your most valuable asset is not your car. In fact, it’s not any possession you own. Your most valuable asset is You. The present value of your future income is the most precious thing you have, and the greatest investment you can make is one into yourself. Sitting in this room today is a step towards increasing the amount of money you earn and the quality of life you enjoy.”

While I would now disagree with the latter half, the remainder of his statement was still very true.

And if your most valuable asset is you, here’s how to maximize your return:

1. Invest in Your Health

“If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?” -Gary Keller

While most people put their work before their health, you should actually do things the other way around.

Trying to work as many hours in a day is equivalent to trying to chop down a tree with a dull saw; you’ll be using a lot of time and effort but getting minimal results.

Instead, it’s better to spend lots of time in rest and recovery where you detach from work and let your mind wander.

You should step away from the noise in order to develop clarity and “sharpen your saw.”

When you then return to your work, you’ll be more motivated, rested, and powerful — everything will become so much easier.

Wrote Tim Ferriss,

“When you make your health your #1 priority the rest becomes so much easier.”

2. Invest in Key Relationships

“If you invest in the stock market, you may be able to get a 10–15% return. However, when you invest in yourself and in relationships, you can often get a 1,000% or 10X return.” -Benjamin P. Hardy

If you what you’re seeking is true growth and development, it can’t be all about you.

Indeed, most people achieve a certain level of success and then become self-consumed. They think the world ought to bend to them and will only engage in relationships so far as they can benefit them.

But this is actually incredibly small minded and will only serve to hinder your success.

In order to evolve as a person and get to the next level of your development, you will need to transcend beyond your own needs and desires and put other people first.

You will need to realize that the success for one is a success for the whole.

As Helen Keller said,

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Moreover, investing in others is how you get others invested in you. Creating relationships built on synergy is how you get a 10X return.

It can’t be all about you. Create a win-win.

3. Invest in New Skills and Experiences

“Many people have the ability to earn two or three times the amount of income they are presently enjoying by simply adding one or two new skills to their skill set.” -Brian Tracy

For many, their learning curve stops after they go to college; they get a degree, settle into a job where do the same thing day in, day out and then collect a paycheck at the end of the week with no learning in between.

Hence why Hugh MacLeod has said,

“A lot of people in business say they have twenty years’ experience, when in fact all they have is one year’s experience, repeated twenty times.”

Now, this is not a fun way to live and nor is it overly exciting. Your brain does not do well on sterile repetition. Rather, novelty, challenge, and uncertainty are all what your brain needs to thrive.

If you’re not regularly doing new things, then you’re reliving your past. You’re stuck as who you are and a victim to what you know.

You should always be striving to do things you’ve never done before. You should continually be working on projects that push and challenge you to transcend beyond your current level of thinking.

This is how you move beyond learned subconscious patterns and into who were meant to be.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. has said,

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”

In Conclusion

Your most valuable asset is you.

While most people are more focused on their work than their health, it’s better to focus on strengthening the individual. As Jim Rohn has said,

“Work hard at your job and you can make a living. Work hard on yourself and you can make a fortune.”

However, this will only get you so far — what got you here won’t get you there.

It will get to a point where you’ll need to move beyond your needs and goals to put other people first. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Finally, you should never be stuck repeating patterns of the past. You get to choose how steep your learning curve is and in turn how big your life is.

Where will you end up?